Antibiotic Resistance: Are You Contributing to the Problem?

November 16th, 2015|Blog, Drugs, Tuberculosis|

How many times have you been prescribed antibiotics and didn’t finish the course of treatment? Maybe you were feeling better or  thought “I could save the rest of these in case I get sick again.” If so, you are a contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistance — and you might not realize it. This week, Nov. 16-22, has been designated by the World Health Organization as “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” designed to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices, such as completing a full course of antibiotics when prescribed and not sharing antibiotics prescribed for you with others. “The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global crisis. It’s one of the greatest threats to health today. This makes a broad range of common infections much more difficult to treat, replacement treatment are more costly, more toxic, and require much longer periods of time for treatment,” WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan said in a news conference. […]

The Silent Soldiers of War

May 21st, 2015|Drugs, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, News, Tuberculosis, Vaccines|

As Memorial Day arrives to herald the start of summer, it’s time to pause in remembrance of U.S. Armed Forces members who lost their lives during service to their country. And, over the course of time, hundreds of thousands of those lives were claimed by silent soldiers that have no loyalty to country or flag, with no respect for borders: infectious diseases. During the U.S. Civil War, disease claimed more lives than bullets; upwards of two-thirds of deaths in the war were attributed to disease. Smallpox, along with dysentery, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, measles, malaria, consumption (tuberculosis) and a host of other infectious diseases, cut a swath through soldiers on both sides. Often before they even faced their human enemies, soldiers were hit by a wave of infection,  soon after arrival in camp. Those from rural areas were most vulnerable, lacking the immunity to childhood diseases those from urban areas often had.  And, disease epidemics played a significant role in halting several major campaigns during the Civil War, with these delays prolonging the fighting by as much as two years. […]

TB Cases in Local School Stir College Memories

April 15th, 2015|News, Tuberculosis|

Recent reports of tuberculosis cases in a local high school dredged up memories of a time this disease paid a visit to the college I attended … Word spread through the hallways of the dorm: “Lacy’s sick, and she won’t be back for a while.” We assumed that our friend, who’d gone home for a few days, had the flu or a stomach bug. But Lacy, who lived directly across the hall from me during our senior year at Mississippi University for Women, didn’t return very quickly – in fact, it was weeks before we saw her again. Diagnosed with active tuberculosis, Lacy was sent to Memphis to recuperate at a hospital, isolated from friends and family during what should have been one of the best times of her life. TB took its toll on Lacy – and on the people around her. Those of us who lived in close proximity found ourselves at the county health department on a regular basis – for TB skin tests and chest x-rays. Like many young people in the U.S., I’d taken my health for granted, and, all of a sudden, I realized I was vulnerable. Luckily, no one else developed active TB, and Lacy eventually returned – to school and to good health. […]

TB Inspired Shorter Hemlines, Recliners

March 24th, 2015|Tuberculosis|

Yesterday’s tuberculosis “cure chair” inspired today’s recliner. Tuberculosis is a disease that has plagued mankind throughout history. The mark it has left on our society is usually quantified in the number of people infected and the number of deaths it has caused. What are not generally discussed are changes in societal norms that were a either a direct result of or due in part to the discovery that TB was caused by contagious bacteria. As we reflect on World TB Day (March 24), the following are some interesting changes in society that were brought on by tuberculosis. In previous centuries, spitting in public was a common occurrence. “No Spitting” public service announcements were distributed on flyers and run in newspapers, culminating in some communities banning the practice altogether. Women’s clothing fashion also changed once spit was identified as a source of infection. Dresses of the day were long and dragged the ground as women walked through the streets. Not wanting to drag their clothing through potentially infectious spit in the streets, hemlines were raised leading to shorter dresses and skirts. […]

Simple, Elegant Solution Holds Promise for Drug Resistance

January 9th, 2015|Drugs, News, Tuberculosis|

A lot of interest has been generated by a recent paper in Nature. Researchers have identified a new antibiotic that works against a wide range of bacterial species that cause infection, and resistance did not develop in the laboratory. The need for new antibiotics is great; many infections are now resistant to the drugs we have, and there has been a lack of effort in developing new ones. Much has been said about the reasons why, but one reason is because antibiotics don’t make enough money to cover the cost of developing them. However, it remains the case we urgently need new antibiotics for many infections, including the ones we work on at IDRI, like tuberculosis. Antibiotics are compounds produced by one living organism that kill another and in many cases they are produced by bacteria found in the environment, for example in water, soil, etc. In this research, the authors found a completely new antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium. […]

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